My Monthly Adsense Report: February 2012

GoogleAdsense

Image by @TurpyWeb

Welcome to my February 2012 Adsense income report!

This is the second instalment in my monthly Adsense income series – the series in which I completely expose myself (mistakes, blunders, omissions, lucky breaks, and skilful, intelligent manoeuvres alike)!

I’ll spare you the blathering – let’s get into the details:

Adsense Earnings for February 2012

In February I made $947.30 in Adsense revenue.

That’s lower than January (and is certainly not moving me any closer to my goal to earn $10,000 per month in Adsense in 2012).

In the paragraphs that follow I’ll talk a little about WHY I think my earnings didn’t go up last month. But first, here’s a table showing the breakdown in Adsense earnings for February:

Some observations on February’s earnings:

  • A few sites still make up the bulk of my earnings.

In my January report, I noted that most of my Adsense revenue came from two or three sites. That was also the case in February.

Here’s a graph showing the distribution of income from my sites. It’s almost identical to January:

Why hasn’t much changed from January to February? Because I only made one change to my website portfolio in February – changing where the ads are on all of my web pages. (More on that in a second.)

You’ve probably heard the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result each time. Bottom line: if you don’t change things up, don’t expect to see improvements.

  • The change to my ad layout actually DECREASED the clickthrough rate on my sites. In last month’s Adsense report I mentioned that I was planning to experiment with different ad layouts in the coming months, to see what impact it has on clickthrough rate (CTR).

At the beginning of February I had my VA change the ad layout on all of my sites, so they followed the same layout as eHow.com. The eHow.com layout basically goes like this:

  • One “leaderboard” ad directly beneath the top navigation
  • One “skyscraper” ad in the left sidebar
  • One large rectangle ad at the top of the right sidebar.

Here’s the layout in action:

What was my reasoning for following the eHow.com ad layout? I assumed that if a successful site like eHow.com is following a certain page layout, then it must be good.

Wrong! Testing proved otherwise. My CTR fell by ~12%, which impacted my overall revenue.

This result is actually consistent with the conclusions of Michael Campbell’s excellent (and free) Ultimate Heatmap report, which states that the areas of a web page that attract the most eyeballs are (1) the content column of a web page (specifically, (a) the top of the content column where the navigation and article title usually are, and (b) the bottom of the page just above the fold) and (2) the left sidebar.

Adsense Lessons I’ve Learned Over the Past Month:

  1. Making money with Adsense is all about pageviews and clickthrough rate, NOT visits. Here’s what happened to the traffic on my sites in February:
  • Cost-per-click (CPC) actually went UP
  • But pageviews and CTR went down
  • Which resulted in fewer overall clicks

So even though CPC went up, my overall revenue was down. This is because fewer pages were viewed on my sites, and also because the CTR was lower.

What this means for you (and me) is that it’s important to get people to stay on-site for as long as possible, and view as many pages as possible – because the more pages they view, the more ads they’ll be exposed to, and the greater chance they’ll eventually see an ad that tickles their fancy and click on it!

Fortunately, this is in line with one of Google’s new rankings rules – reducing the bounce rate of your site. So if you make changes to your sites to encourage people to stay on the site, you’ll not only get more clicks, but Google will reward you with better rankings.

  1. Getting organic traffic takes patience. While I’ve been learning a lot about SEO lately, I still prefer pay-per-click advertising to drive traffic, because it’s SO much faster and straightforward. Having said that, paid traffic only works if you’re selling a high-priced product. For sites that are monetized largely with Adsense, paid traffic doesn’t work – so organic traffic is the way to go.

Related to that point, I’m thinking it’s going to take longer than I expected to sell my first sites on Flippa – because getting a good amount of organic traffic will take some time, and I’ve noticed that Flippa buyers want to see some site history before they’ll pay a good price for it.

  1. Writing publicly about earnings is a great analytical exercise. Writing this post every month is a great learning experience, because it forces me to (a) isolate EXACTLY where my earnings are coming from (b) think about where I should be putting my efforts to increase that income.

Plans to Increase My Adsense Earnings in March

Here’s what I plan to do to try to increase my Adsense earnings this month:

  • Add new content (really!). In last month’s Adsense post I said that I was going to regularly add new content to my “money” sites (i.e. the sites that have the highest rankings and are getting the most traffic, and that seem to be viewed positively by Google).

So in March my VA will be adding over 100 new articles to my sites (setting them up to auto-publish at regular intervals).

I’m also trying something new: I recently hired someone from Scriptlance to gather information on all the health centers in the U.S. that deal with a particular health condition. In total, there are over 1,500 such centers in the U.S. I also hired someone to take that information and add value to it by inserting a little extra information, along with an image and related Youtube video. When the posting of this content is done, I’ll have 1,500 pieces of content on “auto-drip” publishing on one site. I’m expecting that to bring in incremental traffic over time.

  • Monitor the progress of my new 13 niche sites. At the beginning of 2012 I was fully expecting to be able to launch at least 10 new niche sites per month, using the excellent Long Tail Pro for my keyword research. So far, though, I’ve only launched 13. The challenge has been finding the time for my VA to set up the sites, while still allowing her time to do other things. Bottom line: I’m still working on a process to fully outsource this in a smooth fashion.
  • Ditch the eHow.com layout and try new ad layout. In the next couple of days I’ll be changing the ad layout on my sites to a more “aggressive” ad placement to see how that affects CTR.

Here’s the placement I’ll be testing:

Wrapping Up

The learning continues! In February I learned that:

  • Making money with Adsense really is all about pageviews and CTR. (Duh!)
  • I need to be more disciplined in adding new content to my sites that are already ranking
  • The eHow.com ad layout doesn’t work well on my sites

Now your turn. Any questions?

Bueller? Bueller?   

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Comments

  1. briano says

    Good luck with the $10,000 per month. $947 aint too shabby. Wish I was doing half that!

    Very kind of you to post your earnings and nice to see someone who is honest for a change!

    I will keep popping by to see your progress.

    Briano

  2. Mias Muller says

    Hi Moe
    I think you should certainly view this as a positive… Actually knowing that the changes affected your earnings are far better than just wondering if or maby.
    Well done for taking action and now that you have measured and tested, you know what to do to improve things and you will have data to compare it against next month!!

    Keep it up!!!

  3. Moe Muise says

    I like your way of thinking, Mias! Very “glass half full” ;)

    Hopefully this new layout will bump up earnings in March, so I’ll be able to report a positive change next month.

    Moe

  4. says

    thanks alot for the write-up. I really appreciate it. It is really the right stuff COS i have tried a similar thing on my blogs too. Thanks Moe.

  5. says

    Hey Moe thanks for another insightful post very interesting result I wonder if February is always a slow month, a lot of people would have just got there xmas credit card charges and have reigned in there spending. This month should rise as by now they have forgotten that bill and have brought their cc BACK OUT I think March will see a natural increase no matter where the adds are.

    • Moe Muise says

      Hi James,

      Thanks for your question. I’m not sure what you mean, though – do you mean which of the niches I target gets the highest CTR? Or across the internet generally?

      Moe

  6. says

    Hi Moe
    “Making money with Adsense is all about pageviews and clickthrough rate, NOT visits. ”
    This is the difference against a content site that I have, where page views and site visitors are more important.
    With Adsense sites, you don’t want them to really read the content – you just want them to click the ad links asap. I remember a so called ‘guru’ saying make the content ‘rubbish’ so they click a link straight away to get off the site! (charming way of giving advice don’t you think?).
    Changing the ad layout and experimenting is the only way to check results for improvement but earnings of $947 per month is a good starting base!
    Spending a bit more time on the non-performing sites would be worthwhile, so adding the extra new content will help I’m sure.
    Good luck for next month and thanks for sharing.

    • Moe Muise says

      The advice of that “guru” doesn’t surprise me, Graham. Unfortunate, but not surprising.

      I suffer from the opposite problem on a couple of my sites – the content keeps people on the site reading, and they don’t click the ads!

      Moe

      • says

        Hi Moe
        I have the exact same problem on my pages!
        They read several pages of my content but don’t click my links either (well that’s not quite true because some do as I have sales). What I am not sure about is that Google comes regularly to my site and I see a lot of Google translate links – should I be worried about this? After all, if it’s translated then I won’t be gaining any advantage from my affiliate links will I?

  7. James says

    The niches you target in, of course. Don’t you think these templates would-make better CTR? clickbumpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/screenshot.png

  8. says

    Love your reports — keep up the great niche website earning reporting and praying you hit your $10k per month — and me too and more for us!

  9. Matt says

    Hi Moe,

    Thanks for sharing. I always look forward to reading new content on your site. You’re always very detailed and analytical, I think that benefits all of us readers tremendously.

    I know that you are working hard on adsense, but I was wondering how you are making out with your products and product creation(other than your niche sherpa course I mean). Are they bringing a decent sized income(>$2k/month) and do you consider that income stream to be more solid than adsense which relies on serp positioning and Google’s (sometimes fickle) algorithm?

    Would you recommend that we work on both strategies(adsense+infoproducts) at once? Thanks and keep up the great work.

    • Moe Muise says

      Hi Matt,

      That is a GREAT question and, coincidentally, one I’ve been thiking about lately.

      Short answer: I bring in more money from my Clickbank products than Adsense. Which is why I’ve been thinking about it lately. Adsense sites take more of my time, but at the moment are yielding less income. Bottom line: from a time/revenue point of view, it makes more sense to focus on producing high-priced Clickbank products.

      I’ve been meaning to write a post on the different online business models, and the pros and cons of each. Look for that post in the next couple of weeks.

      Moe

  10. Eric S. says

    Google adsense is not paying since months now. Good luck but you’ll never make than 10K, google will using your sites.

  11. says

    I think your content strategy will work really well if you build internal links into those 100 articles you plan on drip feeding. That will help increase your page views. Then build quality external links to those money pages on your site. It’s a lot of heavy lifting but I think it will help boost your rankings, pageviews, ctr’s.

  12. says

    Hi Moe,
    I understand that CTR is the engine that produces the adsense revenue, but it is the traffic that brings the reader to your sight. With that in mind, I am wondering as to how much traffic your top earning sites average each month?

    I ask this because I am trying to establish a ratio of visitors to CTR.

    Thanks,
    Jerry H

    • Moe Muise says

      Hi Jerry,

      Good to hear from you. My entire portfolio of sites get between 35,000 – 40,000 monthly visits right now, and my top site gets 6,000 – 8,000. So it’s not necessary to have a huge number of visitors to make a decent income from each site. More important, in my opinion, is CTR. You can get only 100 visitors per day, but if 10% of them are clicking an ad, and you make $2.00 per click, that’s $600 per month. If you have a few of those sites in your portfolio the income adds up.

      Moe

  13. George says

    Hey there Moe,

    I found your blog yesterday while I was searching for something that can help me increase my AdSense earnings. Your website is spot on and also very informative and is definitely staying in my bookmarks menu.
    I have one main question – How do I attract US visitors ? I have several websites, which make around ~40,000 page views per month ( total ), and I get around 400-500 clicks. That sounds good right ? But it’s not – my clicks are worth around 5 cents each and it’s terrible ! The reason I get paid so low is because those clicks come from my Bulgarian visitors. I want to mention that my websites are bilingual, and I’ve set the first language to English, so all links and everything that appears in the browser is set to English – I’m using WordPress. Also, the second language on the website is Bulgarian, my native language.
    I read some of your AdSense tips, and I changed the placement of my ads and I hope that it will show some improvement through time. Like I said, most of my clicks, say 85-90%, are from Bulgarian visitors and unfortunately my US traffic is so little and I have no explanation for this. I write long, original articles. I have quite some too.
    It’s funny because today I will gain 20 clicks from Bulgaria, and I will earn $1.00 from them. But I will also get 1 click from the US which will be worth $1. I wish I could switch my Bulgarian traffic with my US traffic.. And lastly I forgot to mention my niche – Renewable energy. Me and my father work on those topics – patents, know-how, etc.

    Can you please give me some tips on how to improve my situations, and maybe an answer to why my US traffic is so tiny ?

    Thanks in advance, Moe !

    • Moe Muise says

      Hi George,

      Thanks for your comment. I hate to burst your bubble, but 400-500 clicks from 40k pageviews isn’t very good at all! You should be getting closer to 2,000 clicks, if you’re targeting a 5% clickthrough rate.

      Regarding getting more US visitors, you obviously need to increase your ranking on Google.com (as opposed to Google.bg, the Bulgarian version of Google). To do that, you’ll need to build links from American websites to your site. When Google sees that there are links from American sites to yours, it will assume that it needs to rank your site more highly in Google.com.

      Hope that helps,

      Moe

      • George says

        Thanks for your reply, Moe. I know that 500 clicks is nothing, but it’d be something if they weren’t 5 cents each, you know ! What do you mean exactly by ” build links from American websites to your site” ? Do you refer to putting links like ” See more on this matter at [insert website here] ” somewhere in the article ? Or it’s something else ?

        Thank you so much !

          • George says

            Thanks for the replies, Moe !

            I’m working on it. And by the way – I tried your ad layout that you’ve mentioned in the article above – and it actually worked on the next day. I wasn’t getting any clicks from a particular website, but when I changed the positions I started getting them.. even if they’re 3 cents each. Anyway I started submitting my websites to some web directories, however I find it hard to believe that some renowned website in my niche will link back to me. Maybe the best thing will be for me to link back to them.

  14. says

    Moe, for your site #1 and #2, do you mind sharing with us how much “exact” monthly search of the main keyword? How many pages of content do you have on those sites?

    I believe you also target other longtail keywords as you teach in your course. Thanks!

    • Moe Muise says

      Hi Kent,

      Given the recent smack-down of Adsense publishers by Google, I’m hesitant to give out details – but I can tell you that sites #1 and #2 get between 5k and 10k visits per month (each). Each site has between 100 and 200 pages of content.

      Moe

  15. says

    Moe, how are you doing? I’d like to follow up with your Adsense income growth.

    Did you get hit by Penguin update? Hope your site #1 and #2 are still strong in traffic. Sounds they are authority style ones with 100-200 pages of content.

    Cheers!

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